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Russia likely to escalate attacks despite setbacks: US intelligence officials

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Russia is likely to escalate its military actions in Ukraine even as Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinOvernight Defense & National Security — More troops dispatched to Europe amid crisis On The Money — Biden faces pressure to ban Russian oil Gas prices spike as support for Russian oil ban grows MORE’s ability to maintain long-term influence over its neighbor remains unlikely, U.S. intelligence officials told lawmakers Tuesday.

“We assess Putin feels aggrieved the West does not give him proper deference and perceives this as a war he cannot afford to lose, but what he might be willing to accept as a victory may change over time given the significant costs he is incurring,” National Intelligence Director Avril HainesAvril HainesOvernight Defense & National Security — More troops dispatched to Europe amid crisis How government over-classification may hide UFO videos and harm our security Oversight Republicans demand documents on Afghanistan withdrawal MORE told lawmakers at the annual worldwide threats hearing.

The hearing continued the U.S. government’s practice of openly sharing its intelligence gathered on Putin’s thinking on Ukraine as a way of battling disinformation from the Russian government.

“While Putin probably anticipated many of the current sanctions to be imposed while he weighed the cost of the invasion, we judge that he did not anticipate either the degree to which the United States and its allies and partners would take steps to undermine his capacity to mitigate Western actions,” Haines said, including a strong response from the private sector in the U.S. and Europe.

“Nevertheless, our analysts assess that Putin is unlikely to be deterred by such setbacks and instead may escalate, essentially doubling down.”

U.S. officials said Russia has already sustained anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 casualties as the invasion nears the two-week mark.

“Putin has commented privately and publicly over the years that he doesn’t believe Ukraine’s a real country. Well, he’s dead wrong about that. Real countries fight back, and that’s what the Ukrainians have done quite heroically over the last 12 days,” CIA Director Bill BurnsWilliam BurnsOvernight Defense & National Security — More troops dispatched to Europe amid crisis Senators say CIA has been collecting data in bulk in secret program Intelligence community: Pulsed energy device most probable ‘Havana syndrome’ cause MORE told the committee.

“I think Putin is angry and frustrated right now. He’s likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties,” he added.

“But the challenge that he faces, and this is the biggest question that’s hung over our analysis of his planning for months now … is he has no sustainable political end game in the face of what is going to continue to be fierce resistance from Ukrainians.”


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